The Conspiracy

Blood Libel for the 21st Century?

For awhile now I have been following in the news a group called the “intactivists” who are attempting to ban circumcision in San Francisco.  The group claims that no one, but the owner of the penis has a right to cut it off.  Man was born perfect, they argue, and no one has the right to cut off the foreskin.  When the child comes of age at 18, he can then choose to be circumcised.  The group is likening male circumcision to female circumcision, and is claiming that it is a barbaric custom that is unethical.  The group has succeeded in getting enough votes that the “circumcision ban” will be placed on the next Municipal Election Ballot.  However, interesting enough as this topic is, as I could also write an entire blog ranting against these ideas, the topic of my blog is about a product of the campaign to convince San Franciscans to vote in favor of the ban.

I don’t believe the ban is antisemetic, definitely it infringes on religious freedom, but i don’t believe intrinsically it’s antisemetic, although perhaps anti-religious.  This was until the campaign came out with “Foreskin Man”, a superhero that so far features in two comic books, that is meant to “enlighten” the public on the dangers of circumsion.  So what does he do? He protects babies from the “monster mohel”.  That’s right, Foreskin Man, a blond hair blue eyed man, goes around saving innocent babies from the evil  Jew, who is represented pretty similarly to Nazi Germany’s depictions of Jews in the 1930s and 40s.

Which one is from Nazi Germany, and which was drawn today?

But where the comic book gets real interesting is its use of old blood libel accusations on Jews.  Blood libel accusations, which came in all shapes and sizes in the Middle Ages, basically accused Jews of needing blood (generally Christian child blood) for sacrificial and religious purposes.  In panel 36 of the comic book, the Aryan hero overhears the Mohel say: “And thank thee, O Lord, for the Joyous Metzitzah b’peh for which I am about to partake”, and then in panel 46, after the Monster Mohel is defeated by Foreskin Man, he says, “I’ll just keep coming back until his foreskin is mine”.

Metzitzah b’peh, a controversial form of Circumcision, where the Mohel sucks the blood out, in order to stop excess bleeding or infection, is not a common practice amongst Jews today or for a very long time. (A tube is used in common practice)  Yet the choice to include it in the comic book, aside from being deceitful and unfair, not only makes a point against circumcision, but discriminates against Jews.  We are the bloodsucking nation, and the Mohel clearly needs that foreskin, because he will just keep coming back for it. Not to mention he is about to partake in it, suggesting enjoyment. It really

Modern Antisemitism at its best

is reminiscent of Medieval times when the Jews were accused of capturing Christian babies and using their blood for Matzah.  Here we are in 2011, after the Holocaust and the debunking of such silly myths, and yet it reappears in a new modern form.

Perhaps I’m taking the comparison a little too far, but one thing I’m not taking too far is the antisemitsm manifested in the comic book.   Read the comic book, and judge for yourself, are you as offended as me?

Description on the webpage: Nothing excites Monster Mohel more than cutting into the penile flesh of an eight-day-old infant boy. And after the glorified brit milah is complete, the delicious metzitzah b'peh provides the icing on the cake. Intactivists have been pressuring Monster Mohel to retire, but that will never happen. They will have to pry the scissors from his cold, dead hand.


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11 Older Responses to “Blood Libel for the 21st Century?”

  1. Joshua גדליה חיים Reback
    June 6, 2011 at 2:38 am #

    It’s not as though the Greeks, Romans and Nazis didn’t have excuses to explain their propaganda. This is a blatant attack on religion. There are too many medical benefits and normalcy to male circumcision to take the comic’s author’s charges seriously. He does not care if someone gets hurt.

  2. L. Burde
    June 6, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    One can debate the merits of circumcision on religious or medical groups, but this depiction of Jews is in no way different than the Nazi propaganda which led to the holocaust. This is a hate crime and should be prosecuted as such.

  3. Yakov Wolf
    June 6, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    This comic book is truly disgusting anti-jewish prejudice.

    I’m personally opposed to bans against circumcision–any child I have will have a brit milah–but think that public discussion about the health pros and cons should occur.

    From a political point of view, I’d predict this comic book has probably doomed the anti-circumcision campaign, which I think is a good thing, but I could see this suffocating any public discussion about the health and hygiene aspects of circumcision–which should be discussed separate from Brit Milah–as well.

    I need to learn more about Metzitzah b’peh. I’ve heard very little about the practice, but I’ve heard stories about infants getting infections following a brit milah that includes that ritual at a higher rate than without it.

  4. Yakov Wolf
    June 6, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    Uh. That should say “any MALE child I have will have a brit milah”. Ahem.

  5. Brian Brady
    June 7, 2011 at 3:47 am #

    “From a political point of view, I’d predict this comic book has probably doomed the anti-circumcision campaign, which I think is a good thing,”

    Yakov, I really don’t know about that; I hope you’re right but fear you’re naive. When the recession started, I silently feared a rise of anti-Semitism. Maybe I’m just overly sensitive but it certainly seems more prevalent today than it did 4 years ago.

  6. David Zarmi
    June 7, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    Wow. Who is the author of the graphic novel? Is he/she Jewish or have they just picked up on m’tsitsa from online anti-semitic sources? Just to respond to Yakov first – as Hailey described, m’tstitsa b’fe (the pe turns into a fe and loses its dagesh when it follows a sh’va na) is sucking out the blood (and spitting it out into a little cup like at the dentist) as an age-old remedy to prevent infection etc. It first appears in the g’mara. Traditional m’tsitsa just used lips on skin, and some khasidi groups still do it that way, but the rest of us Orthodox do not. Instead, a tube is used so there is no contact and no chance of, G-d forbid, herpes infection if the mohel is unclean (also good to choose your mohel wisely).. The graphic novel is clearly antisemitic. Banning circumcision need not me (and is also anti-Muslim to the extent they would ban it on minors in general and not just newborns), but this graphic novel does not have Forsekin Man battling an evil hospital doctor who wants to deprive the chil of the joy of fopreskin, but a mohel. And the mohel is a monster, not even an evil man. And when he uses Hebrew phrases he is “babbllng.” It’s sick. I know the article had this as its point, but I don’t those points were hit clearly or strongly enough. It singles out Jews, as if Jews are the 70% of the male population that’s circumcised (hint: we’re not).

  7. David Zarmi
    June 7, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    The larger problem for me is how to frame the argument. Sure I think we should be allowed to circumcise, and as an Orthodox Jew, I’m probably more in favor of parental rights than most Americans. But if my religion didn’t tell me that circumcision perfects the body rather than mutilates it, where would I stand? Am I cool with parents cutting kids ears off? Or female genital mutilation (which is religious and has a long history)? I know doctors might compare circumcision more to surgical removal of the hymen than the labia and clitoris, but that’s a question of where we draw the line. And public policy could draw it at male circumcision. At the moment it would also stand up to constitutional tests, just like in the peyote cases. “Although states have the power to accommodate otherwise illegal acts done in pursuit of religious beliefs, they are not required to do so.” So what are we left with? It’s an ancient tradition, please respect our right to do so for religious beliefs and hope for a religious exemption? Or the medical case. The ironic thing is that the health benefits I can see all stem from the assumption that we’re living polygamous (in the sense of multiple partner) lifestyles. If you are an Orthodox Jew, not sure there’s much in the way of health benefits, but that’s just irony. I am uncomfortable with this being our argument because: (1) medicine may change its mind; and (2) it’s a complete pretense when nobody who does circumcision religiously thinks they’re doing it so their kid has less of a chance of getting VDs when he’s 16 and fooling around in the back of the smart car. Anyway, I’d welcome comment on this, even though it may beyond the scope of the antisemtiic graphic novel being published in San Francisco.

  8. Concerned Citizen
    June 9, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    Next in line to protect SF’s children, is a ban on wet bathing until the infant is hold enough to hold up its own head. Pneumonia is the leading cause of infant mortality and anabaptists—as backers call themselves—claim the risk of aspirating bath water is too great, especially considering infants’ short airways and undeveloped immune systems. The bill contains no religious exemptions for baptism. Says anabaptist Claudia Yentser: “Those baptismal fonts are the worst! Tepid water sits in the font from the beginning of the service until the baptism, which for some churches can be over an hour! And the basins are rarely sterilized! Imagine how terrified the baby must be, not being able to swim! But this ballot initiative isn’t anti-Christian, many sects of Christianity postpone baptism until the child is old enough to speak for herself. Those other Christians just have to join the 21th century.”

  9. Arlene Becker
    June 10, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

    I like both of David Zarmi’s arguments as he argues from both sides and clearly concludes with the rational arguments for his position, as an Orthodox Jew, to be in favor of this for himself and his children. He points out the health benefits of the procedure for those who may be promiscuous. What he does point out, is the horrible and very scary mediaeval mindset of the authors of the
    horrific anti=Semetic publication, that the author of the Nazi Der Strumer would be proud of. This type of Mediaeval mind-set led to the annihilation of six million Jews during the World WarII period and of all of the insane blood libel accusations that have been hurled against the Jews by the dark and demented minds of rabid anti-semites. I cannot believe that in teh 21st century such accusations and such dark minds still exist. This is also akin to the Salem witchcraft accusations,which were a blight on our American history.. Is there any rational way we can reach such people because, if not, we are still in the Dark Agea, and no matter what our technical achievements, will always the Dark Ages.

  10. Tomoyo
    June 12, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

    That’s some gorgeous artwork.


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